"If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear"
― George Orwell
Have you ever been shadowbanned on Twitter? I have, on several occasions. As have many well-known public figures including Donald Trump, Malik Obama, and Rose McGowan.
Twitter, Facebook and YouTube are all known to censor content, encourage certain views over others, and promote the platform’s own political or religious agendas. And if you’re overly persistent in posting material that the site owners dislike, they’ll simply delete or shadowban your account.
Shadowbanning is even more insidious than regular banning, because users are given no indication they’ve been shadowbanned. They still see their own posts, but they don’t realize nobody else can see them. They’re just left to wonder why nobody ever responds.
Even Google, which abandoned its “Don’t Be Evil” motto last year, is in the midst of a dangerous drift towards censorship.
And on r/cryptocurrency, Reddit’s largest and most popular cryptocurrency subreddit, the administrators are known to favor certain coins and tokens over others. If you post a thread about a crypto platform they don’t like, the thread will be down-voted to oblivion, or never approved for display in the first place.
Skycoin is one of the projects most hated by r/cryptocurrency. Threads about Skycoin are simply not allowed, unless they’re FUD threads, in which case they’re eagerly encouraged.
But I’m not here to talk about Reddit or Google or Twitter. Today I’d like to focus on Wikipedia, supposedly a bastion of free speech and democracy.
Let’s find out how true that really is.
The mysterious vanishing Skycoin Wikipedia page
(Warning: This is a long rant. You can skip to the bottom for a TL;DR!)
I joined Wikipedia in September 2010 using the handle Peak Debt, in order to create this article about Peak Debt. Over the years I also contributed to numerous other pages, mostly related to real estate and economics.
In 2018 I developed an interest in the Skycoin blockchain platform, and created a Wikipedia entry on this topic. I submitted the first draft for approval in June 2018, but it was immediately marked for deletion by the highly controversial administrator Legacypac, and subsequently deleted by another administrator, Jimfbleak.
Legacypac is a self-confessed cryptocurrency cynic, who would prefer that Wikipedia hosts no crypto pages at all. This is a comment he made during an earlier Wikipedia discussion:
"Along the lines of how we treat pseudoscience, what about imposing a templated paragraph on all crypto currency pages that says roughly “Leading financial press and finance experts have described all cryptocurrenies [sic] as a fraud, worthless, and holding no inherient [sic] value. Major advertising platforms have banned all ads connected to cryptocurrency. Cryptrocurrencies [sic] are subject to aggressive promotional activities, often by people with undisclosed conlicts [sic] of interest, in a nearly unregulated environment" — Legacypac, 06:57, 20 May 2018
After the deletion of my first draft, I asked Jimfbleak to restore the page into draftspace so I could continue working on it. I asked for his guidance to improve the page, edited the draft based on his advice, and resubmitted.
After sitting in the approval queue for several weeks, the page was once again rejected, this time by administrator Catrìona. Again, I went through the same process of asking for the page to be restored into draftspace and asking the administrator who rejected it for their guidance to improve the page.
I went through this process seven times in total, improving the page each time under an administrator’s guidance, resubmitting, waiting several weeks or months for it to be reviewed, only for it to be rejected again every time.
The guidance given by the administrators was similar each time. They told me to add more references, add more negative commentary about Skycoin, remove positive commentary about Skycoin, and add more warnings about cryptocurrencies being scams.
I think they hoped I’d eventually just give up. But I persisted, and after several months they could no longer dream up any more ‘improvements’ and were left with no choice but to approve the page. By this stage the page included approximately 60 references including Forbes, Reuters, The United Nations, CNBC, Bloomberg, Nasdaq, MIT and the BBC.
So the page was finally approved in October 2018. And this is where events grew even more interesting.
Over the next few weeks, various administrators gradually started removing references from the page. All those references (which they had recently approved) were now considered unreliable.
Forbes? Unreliable. Reuters? Unreliable. United Nations? Unreliable. Nasdaq? Unreliable. Binance’s official Medium account announcing their partnership with Skycoin? Unreliable, because Medium is unreliable, apparently.
Then after the page had been purged of most of its sources, it was marked for deletion again, because now it no longer contained sufficient sources.
When a page is marked for deletion on Wikipedia, a deletion discussion page is created so interested parties can vote and debate for the page to either remain or be deleted. As the creator of the Skycoin page, I was automatically invited to participate in this discussion.
However, immediately after being invited to the deletion discussion, administrator MER-C imposed a permanent topic ban on me, preventing me from editing any cryptocurrency pages. His justification for the ban was that I included unreliable sources in my page (these being the same sources that were accepted just a few weeks prior, when the page was initially approved).
When I received this ban, I followed the rules and didn’t attempt to make any further changes to the Skycoin page. However, I did enter my vote on the deletion discussion page. But as it turns out, this was also a breach of my ban.
Apparently the ban hastily slapped on me by an administrator now meant I wasn’t even allowed to comment on the proposed deletion of my own page, despite previously receiving an automatic notification advising that I was welcome to contribute to that discussion.
And then in retaliation for unknowingly breaching my topic ban, the administrators proposed that I be completely and permanently blocked from Wikipedia. This block was enforced, and I am now unable to edit anything on Wikipedia ever again (even my own user page). My 8-year-old account and my IP address are completely blocked from the entire site.
Meanwhile, other interested parties were beginning to discover that the Skycoin page had been marked for deletion. There’s a Twitter bot that notifies users when certain Wikipedia pages are edited, so anyone with alerts set for the Skycoin page received notification that the page was marked for deletion.
Several of these individuals entered the discussion page, voting for the page to remain and giving their reasons. But the Wikipedia administrators struck out all of these ‘keep’ votes, claiming the votes were posted by ‘sock puppets’. This obviously left a large majority of ‘delete’ votes, and the page was deleted.
Click here to view the Skycoin deletion discussion page on Wikipedia.
Not satisfied with only deleting the Skycoin page, the Wikipedia admins then moved on to the CoinJoin page and deleted that too. CoinJoin is a privacy and anonymity protocol used by Skycoin and other blockchain platforms. The CoinJoin page had been well established on Wikipedia for three years before this incident brought it to the attention of the anti-crypto administrators.
Click here to view the CoinJoin deletion discussion page on Wikipedia.
Other major blockchain projects, including Cardano, have also reported the recent deletion of their Wikipedia entries.
Click here to view the Cardano deletion discussion page on Wikipedia.
Fortunately, the Skycoin project has its own Wiki site, and the censored Wikipedia page has been preserved here.
I spent months working on a Skycoin Wikipedia page. It was rejected seven times before being approved. After approval, Wikipedia admins gradually removed all the references, marked the page for deletion, banned my account, dismissed everyone who voted for the page to remain, and deleted the page. Then they deleted the CoinJoin page too. These administrators have openly acknowledged their hostility towards cryptocurrencies.
An end to censorship?
Fortunately, the era of censorship is drawing to a close. Blockchain technology has the potential to free the Internet from these monolithic giants who misuse their power to control and manipulate the views of billions of individuals.
The Skycoin project is building Skywire, a global decentralized peer-to-peer mesh network that bypasses centralized ISPs and government-controlled infrastructure. And Skycoin has also released CX and CXO, a programming language and immutable objects system that integrates with Skycoin Fiber blockchains.
This Skycoin technology will be used to build decentralized versions of Wikipedia, Twitter, Reddit, Facebook and other social networks. No single individual, group, organization or government will ever be able to censor or control Skycoin’s new suite of social networking platforms. All citizens of the world will enjoy equal power and freedom to make their voices heard.
So perhaps the real reason for anti-blockchain prejudice and censorship on platforms like Wikipedia and Reddit is starting to become clear.
These established Internet behemoths are slowly waking up to the inescapable threat that decentralized blockchain platforms like Skycoin pose to their very existence.
“When you tear out a man’s tongue, you are not proving him a liar, you’re only telling the world that you fear what he might say.” ― George R.R. Martin, A Clash of Kings